Tracking Trailers

Three social listening indicators we use to predict trailer performance

Henry Chapman, Research and Insights Analyst

Social listening data and movie trailers

We love movies at Infegy, and 2023 was quite the year for film, with Barbenheimer (Barbie + Oppenheimer) dominating the summer box office. Movie trailers are critical to the successful opening weekend of any movie. Movie trailers and the social buzz they create are well-documented to drive audiences to that opening weekend. On the other hand, movie trailers can’t save stinkers, so if the movie is terrible, word-of-mouth can sink its performance after it debuts.

Trailers are a fascinating marketing strategy for a social listening product suite to track. Social listening tools like Infegy Atlas and Infegy Starscape can quantify how much attention trailer drops attract. We’ll identify the three distinct metrics that we use to measure how successful trailers are:

  1. Post Volume
  2. Fan Engagements
  3. Anticipation Emotion

While talking about movie trailers in this brief, these metrics apply to any general product launch with a high-profile announcement or advertisement, so join us as we decode the pulse of audience excitement and uncover the key metrics shaping the success of cinematic teasers.

Post Volume as a proxy for buzz

First, we’ll look at post volume, the most obvious metric for how well a trailer performed. Post volume is how many posts we collect about a topic over time. Any time you’re doing trend analysis, post volume is the first place you look at to get a sense of overall volume and topic growth or shrinkage.

In Figure 1, we’re showing you the general post volume attributed to Barbie from 2023. The first bump represents the initial buzz generated when the original teaser dropped in April 2023, while the second smaller hump represents a follow-on theatrical trailer. We see a typical pattern with movie trailers: the teaser trailer generated more buzz than the extended, follow-on trailer. This pattern makes sense because teaser trailers are often the first reveal of a content piece, and editors design them to generate the maximum amount of conversation.

Along with the initial trailer-related spike of attention, we also see elevated post volume after the initial trailer release. We’ll be coming back to this over and over again in this brief. This elevated level of conversation is a better indication of audience attention and Engagement.

Image 1 - Barbie PV

Figure 1: Post volume for Barbie movie (January 2023 through present), Infegy data.

Tracking Engagements to measure the fan base’s reaction

While post volume helps monitor the overall size of an audience reaction, it’s far from the only metric we use to measure how well a trailer is performing. Next, we’ll turn to Engagement. Engagement tracks likes, shares, comments, replies, and other platform-specific metrics. Tracking Engagement can serve as a proxy to measure how reactionary and excited a prospective audience is about a particular upcoming movie.

The most obvious way we measure Engagement is by tracking likes and other platform-based reactions (upvotes, favorites, etc.). In Figure 2, we used Infegy Starscape to examine four 2024 movies with released trailers (Dune: Part Two, Bob Marley: One Love, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, and Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire).

You’ll note that each movie has a very different post volume and average number of likes. Paradoxically, fewer average likes can suggest more pronounced organic growth. Trailers with enormous average likes, such as the Bob Marley biopic, often come from large corporate accounts with large followings. This reaction is not the type of organic buzz that you want to see when you release a trailer. On the converse, Dune: Part Two has only 303 likes on average per post. This pattern suggests smaller accounts are posting about it, which, combined with its larger post volume, suggests a higher degree of buzz.

Image 2 - Comparative Likes
Figure 2: Post volume and Like average for top 2024 upcoming movies (January 2023 through present), Infegy data.

Like post volume, we can track engagements over time. In Figure 3, we’re monitoring Engagements over time for those four movies. You’ll note that Dune: Part Two has a similar pattern to Barbie: after the initial trailer bump, we see pronounced Engagement for the following eight months. On the other hand, Engagement drops to almost nothing for the other selected films. This drop suggests their trailers failed to generate the substantial, durable conversation needed to drive people to opening weekend.

Image 3 - Comparative Engagements-1
Figure 3: Engagements for top 2024 upcoming movies (January 2023 through present), Infegy data.

Charting Anticipation to show interest

Finally, we’ll look at Anticipation, our last metric to monitor movie trailer performance. Infegy IQ, our custom, in-house AI analysis engine, quantifies content based on emotions. In Figure 4, we’re looking specifically at Anticipation. When we analyze Anticipation, we scan millions of posts for phrases like “I can’t wait for…” or “I’m so excited about.”

In the context of a movie trailer, this can be beneficial information for entertainment executives. We see an even more pronounced story than before. Dune: Part Two has a huge Anticipation bump, while Bob Marley seems to fall flat. Interestingly, Furiosa, the Mad Max spin-off, has a sizable increase in Anticipation that has some durability. We’ve got less data to conclude, but based on the signal here, we predict that Furiosa has had a successful trailer.

Image 4 - Comparative Emotions - Anticipation-1
Figure 4: Anticipation for 2024 upcoming movies (January 2023 through present), Infegy data.

Takeaways for social media presence

Leveraging a social listening tool like Infegy Atlas and Infegy Starscape provides invaluable insights for tracking and measuring the performance of product launches, especially in the realm of movie trailers. The three key metrics – Post Volume, Fan Engagements, and Anticipation Emotion – serve as a robust framework to decode audience excitement. Post Volume acts as a proxy for buzz, offering a comprehensive view of topic growth or shrinkage. Fan Engagements, encompassing likes, shares, and comments, gauges the reactionary and organic growth of audience interest over time. Lastly, Anticipation Emotion, measured by Infegy IQ, provides a unique perspective by quantifying content based on emotions, offering a predictive indicator of sustained interest. By adopting these metrics, businesses can navigate the social media landscape, ensuring a successful and enduring impact for their product launches.

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